Premier League Round 33

11 Apr

It feels like only yesterday we were discussing the Round 32 action, and having to put up another update, I can almost feel some sympathy for Premier League footballers who have to play two games in such a short space of time. Well, not really, most of them get my annual salary in a weekly wage – so **** ’em. Anyway, the big news is that after the race for the title ended with Man City’s defeat to a very impressive Arsenal, it’s now back on after Man Utd’s defeat to a very impressive Wigan. Wigan fans must feel bitter sweet about their recent form. They beat Liverpool at Anfield, were robbed by two offside goals against Chelsea, and have just beaten Man Utd – but what on Earth have they been doing for the rest of the season? Shaun Maloney’s second goal in four games (vs Liverpool and Man Utd) was enough to win the match for Wigan, who also should have scored through Victor Moses’ header which was harshly disallowed. So United’s 8 point lead is now just 5 points because of Man City’s impressive win against 13th placed West Brom.

City walked into the last chance saloon with Carlos Tevez the first through the swinging doors. The tricky Argentinian was back in the starting line up for the first time since his 5 month intensive golf training. Man City were desperate and with Mental Mario unlikely to play for the club again, and Dzeko being pants since the Autumn, it was down to their former captain and last years top scorer to inspire them. And inspire them he did. Forming an all Argentinian front line with fellow trickster Sergio Aguero, they carved the midlanders open – playing with the freedom of a team no longer feeling the pressure of a title race. Encouragingly, David Silva also looked refreshed. With the surprising score from Wigan (they’d never even picked up a point from Man Utd in the Premier League), the gap is now 5 points, but crucially, City have to host United in what could turn out to be a massive game. Win that and it’s 2 points, and with City having a better goal difference thanks to this 4-0 win, a single draw by United will be enough for City to get back on top. There’s a lot of ifs, and as the saying goes, if my aunt had balls she’d be my uncle, but it’s still good for the neutral. Tevez has generally done well against United for both City and previously West Ham, so don’t be surprised if he still has a big say in the title race.

Just behind the top two sit Arsenal with a 5 point cushion over 4th place. Their 9th win in 10 games saw Wolves pretty much relegated (9 points adrift), and also showed what a waste their first half of the season was. Those who dounted Wenger are idiots (I know I certainly didn’t – honest), and it’s not as if they’ve just been steam rolling poor teams like Wolves. The recent run has seen wins against Liverpool (then 7th), Spurs (then 3rd), Newcastle (then 6th) and Man City (2nd). Add to those wins, other victories against resurgent Everton and Sunderland teams, and throw in a 3-0 win over AC Milan, and all of a sudden, Arsenal are showing the mental strength that Wenger has been referring to for so long. The turning point in the season was recovering from 2-0 down to beat rivals Spurs 5-2. That stopped a 13 point lead opening, and it became 7 points, also leading to Spurs poor run of form. Robin van Persie scored his first goal in 4 games, with midfielders Walcott and Benayoun completed the scoring versus 10 man Wolves. Interestingly, with the Euro’s approaching, Walcott (9.50) now has as many Premier League Goals as the greediest player in the league (TM) Daniel Sturridge (12.50) with eight each. Walcott has 4 against Top 6 opponents, compared to Sturridge’s 5 against Bottom 6. Read from that what you will.

Other love should also be dished out to Newcastle. All of a sudden they’ve somehow won 5 games in a row whilst everyone has been looking at Chelsea and Spurs. This leaves Newcastle level on points with Spurs (one win in eight) with 59 points, and they remain two ahead of Chelsea who were Dempsey’d against Fulham in a 1-1 draw. Papiss Cisse (12.0) and Ben Arfa (13.4) have been the catalysts for the winning run, and both were on the scoresheet against 16th place Bolton.

RvP’s cheeky penalty against Wolves takes him 5 goals clear at the top of the scoring charts, with 5 games left for him to hit the magical 30 mark. He’s now scored against 17 of the 19 teams he’s faced this season. He still leads the way with goals against the Top 6, and it’s ex-Gunner Emmanuel Adebayor that leads the way from an average opposition point of view with 8.15. He’s still yet to score against bottom 6 opposition this season.

Frank Lampard Junior looks likely to keep the Flat Track bully tag for the season with an average ranked opponent of 14.55 per goal. His penalty against 10th placed Fulham was his first goal since Round 26. His average opponent per goal is ranked 3 places lower than Super Clint Dempsey’s 11.38. The Texan midfielder has had an awesome season and has eclipsed his previous best of 12 last season. He’s one short of 50 Premier League goals. He’s surely above Cobi Jones as the best American to have played in England?

Cisse’s meteoric rise continues for Newcastle. His 10th goal in 9 games since joining has put him level with Premier League hot shots Jermain Defoe (9.50) and Javier Hernandez (11.60). You have to wonder if he’s somehow nicked Demba Ba’s shooting boots as he’s done sod all since his countryman joined. But these three are in the shadow of big Yakubu (12.81). His brace against Liverpool took his league tally to 16. This equals his best tally in England which he achieved with Portsmouth back in 2003-04. In that season he managed it in 37 games, this season has taken just 23 games. He had just 10 goals in his previous 53 Premier League games. Unfortuantely for Blackburn, his goals weren’t enough as big Andy Carroll made things interesting in his competition with Fernando Torres. Carroll’s winner was his 4th league goal of the season to Torres’ five. Also, why doesn’t Maxi play more? He always seems to score when he plays. I admittedly haven’t watched every Liverpool game, but i’m pretty sure he’s better than Downing/Henderson? I suggested Liverpool would have a big say in the relegation fight after defeats to Wigan and QPR and this win over Blackburn will have as big an effect.

FA Cup this weekend, and Everton go in on the back of their best form of the season with just two defeats in thirteen. Their 4-0 win over Sunderland was especially impressive after they fielded a weakened team. As shown in the last post, they always finish the season strongly, and although I had no answer for it then (yesterday), perhaps it’s down to each summer selling a key member of the squad (Rooney, Lescott, Arteta, etc….) taking a while to recover, and then getting a shot in the arm in the January window – Donavon, Jelavic, Gibson? Who knows.

That’s all for now, Spanish and Italian leagues to follow. The next feature is looking like a big one, so may take a little while longer.

Cheers,

Liam

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